African Journal of
History and Culture

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Hist. Cult.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-6672
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJHC
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 188

Full Length Research Paper

A discourse on the fundamental principles of character in an African moral philosophy

Oyebade Oyewole
  • Oyebade Oyewole
  • Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Arts, University of Lagos, Akoka, Yaba, Lagos State, Nigeria.
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Azenabor Godwin
  • Azenabor Godwin
  • Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Arts, University of Lagos, Akoka, Yaba, Lagos State, Nigeria.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 22 February 2017
  •  Accepted: 05 April 2018
  •  Published: 30 April 2018


This research attempts to throw light on the indigenous African moral philosophy from the yorùbá socio-cultural paradigm, espousing the adequacy of its authentic ontological and ethical principles towards sustainable development in the contemporary period. Indigenous African morality revolves around the notion of character and character traits which aim at analyzing actions and motive of a moral agent. Character-ethics approaches moral discourse not on the face value of moral actions; rather, from the broad understanding of the nature of reality and subsisting metaphysical orientation in a socio-cultural experience that shapes the mind and conducts of its individuals. The concept of Omolúàbí suffices as generally accepted character (Ìwà) model among the Yorùbá predominantly in the West African sub-region. An Omolúàbí is a well-rounded good person, exhibiting virtues like moderation, truth, diligence, courage and wisdom among others. Behind these virtues are African ontological and ethical principles that inform the making of an Omolúàbí in the Yorùbá traditional moral setting. The underlining metaphysical orientation accentuates spiritual primacy, duality and complementarity to promote interdependence of all forces and harmonious relationship. In effect, the character of Omolúàbí is such that harmonises interests, promotes the spirit of live and let live, diplomacy and collective well-being in the society. Conceptual analysis and critical evaluative reasoning were employed as the methodology to unravel the potential of the African metaphysical orientation via Yorùbá traditional morality. “The complementarity and symbiotic orientation drawn from the characteristics of Omolúàbí was argued as germane to peaceful coexistence”. Generally, it is our position that the notion of Omolúàbí hinged on authentic African metaphysical orientation will enhance sustainable moral development especially in a pluralistic society.
Key words: Morality, character (Ìwà), omolúàbí, duality, African moral philosophy.